Frequently Asked Questions About Marriage Counseling | Family & Marriage Counseling Articles  
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Frequently Asked Questions About Marriage Counseling

Who are marriage and family therapists?

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are trained in psychotherapy and family systems (with at least two years of clinical experience) and are licensed to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of marriage, couples and family systems.

What is marriage and family therapy?

MFTs are concerned with the long-term well-being of individuals and their families.

Marriage and family therapists practice short-term therapy: 12 sessions on average. Often the treatment provided by marriage and family therapists is one-on-one as well as marital/family therapy.

Marriage and family therapy's prominence in the mental health field has increased due to its brief, solution-focused treatment, its family-centered approach, and its demonstrated effectiveness.

What are the qualifications for a marriage and family therapist?

Marriage and family therapy is a distinct professional discipline with graduate and post graduate programs. Three options are available for those interested in becoming a marriage and family therapist: master's degree (2-3 years), doctoral program (3-5 years), or post-graduate clinical training programs (3-4 years).

After graduation from an accredited program, a period - usually two years - of post-degree supervised clinical experience is necessary before licensure or certification. When the supervision period is completed, the therapist can take a state licensing exam, or the national examination for marriage and family therapists conducted by the AAMFT Regulatory Boards. This exam is used as a licensure requirement in most states.

How much does marriage and family counseling cost?

Family and marriage counseling costs can vary widely. Rates vary from about $75 to $200 per hour, but many therapists offer sliding scale fees based on income, while some accept insurance and some do not. The average cost for marriage and family counseling is about $100 per session.

How should I choose a marriage counselor?

Searching for a marriage counselor that will assist you and your loved ones should not be difficult. Thanks to technology and the internet, we no longer rely on the phone book as our primary source of information. Consult the internet, you can find out a lot about a counselor from their website. Ask your friends and family, word of mouth is effective in regards to referrals. Once your search has been narrowed to a handful of marriage counselors, pick up the phone. Most therapists will have a brief phone consultation with you and answer questions you might have. The phone consultation is a great way to determine if you and the prospective marriage counselor might work well together.

What about online marriage counseling?

The official stance by the psychotherapy community is still in question in regards to the efficacy or non-efficacy of online counseling.

Because online counseling is a relatively new form of therapy, regulations have yet to be established. The International Society for Mental Health Online ( has published ethical guidelines to assist professionals in the development of ethical e-counseling practices.

Does marriage counseling work?

In an article published by Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, clients of marriage and family counselors from 15 different states reported on their experience with counseling. Specifically, of clients from 526 marriage and family counselors in 15 different states, 98.1% rated services good or excellent. A majority of clients reported an improvement in their functioning at work, and over three-fourths of those receiving marital/couples or family therapy reported an improvement in the couple relationship.